Round one of the men’s singles at the 2016 Australian Open completes on Tuesday in Melbourne, with Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal among those in action on day two.
Renzo Olivo ensured that our fortnight got off to a profitable start when the Argentine defeated Jiri Vesely to land our ‘long shot’ wager at odds of 5.10.
‘Sure thing’ backers were also at the payout queue as my short-priced treble landed, but a surprisingly good performance from Nick Kyrgios foiled the overs wager in his clash with Pablo Carreno-Busta.
It’s set to be very hot and sunny again on Tuesday in Melbourne, but not brutally hot, at around 33C in the shade – it’s certainly been warmer than that before, but it'll still be a test.
Kevin Anderson vs Rajeev Ram
Anderson has endured a stuttering start to the season with injury and a lack of matches leading to a less than ideal preparation for Melbourne and I like the over 33.5 games in this 02:00 UK time clash with Ram.
The big South African withdrew from Chennai with a knee injury and the only match he’s won this season was an unconvincing 7-6, 7-6 win over arguably the worst tie break player on tour in Robin Haase.
A loss to Jack Sock followed and although Anderson should win this the serve and volleying skills of Ram will make it tricky and I fancy a four setter here.
Oddly this pair haven’t met since playing four times in 2007 at Challenger level, with Ram winning three and although pretty much everything has changed since then Ram won’t be overawed by the South African.
Anderson rarely gets things done quickly in Melbourne (or anywhere else for that matter), with sets dropped here to Paulo Lorenzi, Diego Schwartzman, Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Sergiy Stakhovsky in recent years.
John Isner vs Jerzy Janowicz
Isner struggled a tad with a knee problem in Auckland, but his injury are nothing compared with those of Janowicz, who has knee and back problems and hasn’t played so far in 2016.
JJ’s mother is usually a reliable source of information about the Pole and she says that he’s “not physically ready” for this match against Isner, which takes place at around 04:00 UK time on Tuesday.
Janowicz hasn’t played competitively since the start of November and to ask him to rock up and beat Isner in his first match for months seems too much.
Isner withdrew from the doubles in Auckland after losing a match he should have won against Roberto Bautista-Agut, but I suspect that is more precautionary than anything else and he’ll certainly be more ready for this than JJ, who surely is here for the substantial round one cheque.
Isner is 21-3 on the ATP World Tour and Grand Slams on outdoor hard as a 1.20 to 1.30 favourite and assuming he’s OK physically he looks the most solid of those in his price bracket on Tuesday.
I think we should safely be able to add Nicolas Mahut to the bet to make a 1.35 double, as the Frenchman is taking on Marco Cecchinato, who Mahut defeated easily in Sydney last week.
The Italian clay courter hasn’t won a completed match since last October and he’s won only one completed match against top-100 opposition since September 2014.
Simone Bolelli should have few problems against the returning Brian Baker, who’s here on a protected ranking and hasn’t played at this level for two-and-a-half years and retired in a Futures last week in his first match since the 2013 US Open.
Tim Smyczek vs Daniel Gimeno-Traver
DGT might be a perennial struggler away from clay, but are we really saying that limited American grinder Smyczek is a 1.31 chance to beat him in a major tournament?
Smyczek hasn’t won a match at main level since a victory over James Ward on grass at Nottingham last summer and plays most of his tennis on the Challenger circuit.
Since that Ward win Smyczek has lost all 14 sets he’s contested at main level and in 2016 he managed to lose to world number 813 Oliver Anderson in qualifying for Brisbane.
He qualified for the Open with a deciding set win over lumbering Frenchman Kenny De Schepper and I couldn’t possibly back Smyczek at today’s price against pretty much anyone on the tour.
DGT is a real enigma on faster surfaces, with the odd very good result here and there and he did beat Matt Ebden (who chipped in with 14 double faults) in the Canberra Challenger last week.
The Spaniard has won at odds of 3.0 and higher four times in the last 15 months, beating Joao Sousa, Sam Groth and Jiri Vesely on hard courts and Gilles Simon on clay, so for me his price of 3.45 is a tad insulting against someone like Smyczek.
Granted, DGT has often been guilty of turning up for the round one cheque but he should fancy this and if he gets that forehand firing he can take down the mediocre American no problem at all.
Smyczek has only ever been a 1.30 to 1.40 favourite at main level once in his career and that was a narrow deciding set win over Adrian Menendez-Maceiras and he’s dismal value today.
Others with possibilities at reasonable prices include Japanese pair Tatsuma Ito and Taro Daniel against Czechs Radek Stepanek and Lukas Rosol, while Andrey Kuznetsov and John Millman look poor value at their odds for Tuesday.
Sure thing: Back Isner and Mahut at 1.35
Value bet: Back over 33.5 games in Anderson/Ram at 1.88
Long shot: Back Gimeno-Traver to beat Smyczek at 3.45